In Paris, one’s home is in cafes, in squares, on bridges, don’t you think? They allow us to lay claim to the city. (page 317)
Let me start off by saying, I adore Susan Vreeland.
Pascal didn’t complain when he felt nausea or pain. He simply said, “Bring me the third Pissarro” or “I want to see the still life,” and I knew he wished to lose himself in a painting. I suspected that his absorbed study, his searching for something in each painting he had not noticed before, allowed him to rise about discomfort.
… When I held up Pissarro’s red roofs, the largest painting, Pascal murmured, “Such a pretty orchard. You know, those blogs of paint protruding from the canvas, they catch light on their upper edges and create small shadows beneath them. That’s not an accident, Lisette. That’s genius.”
Even in this he was teaching me to notice details. But beyond that, he was saying good-bye to each of his paintings. (pages 76-77)
Oh, Lisette, the stream of trucks arriving at the Louvre and the Jeu de Paume to deliver paintings from across France to be sorted, sold or destroyed, other trucks leaving with paintings to be loaded into freight cars headed for Germany. My sister and I stood helpless and horrified, watching paintings by Klee, Ernst, Picasso, Leger, so many, go up in flames in the garden of the Jeu de Paume. Without its art, Paris, all of France, would never be the same.
I insisted that we climb the long Daru staircase in the Louvre, pausing at each step to appreciate the full marble glory of Nike of Samothrace, winged and victorious. Her commanding presence, well over three meters high and set on a tall pedestal, demanded that we look up in adoration. I was certain I felt the wind ruffling her gown.
“What a victory it was to remove that for hiding. … September third, the same day de Gaulle declared war. We volunteers gathered to watch, holding our breaths as she was lowered down the steps on runners and held upright by ropes. More than twenty centuries old, she is. It does me good to see her back in her rightful place, undamaged.” (pages 332-333)